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Citrus Pests




Scientific name


Order Diptera

Similar species


Citrus pest flies can be easily confused with wasps and bees. Each group can be identified by examining the mouthparts, body texture, and hindwings.

Flies Wasps Bees
Body Texture Slightly hairy Shiny and smooth Fuzzy
Mouthparts Sponging Chewing Siphoning
Hindwing Modified to knob-like stablizing structures (halteres) Membranous Membranous

Diagnostic characteristics

  • Smallest size - 1.5 mm (0.06 in.).
  • Largest size - 8 mm (0.31 in.).
  • Gnat-like to house fly body shape with females usually larger than males.
  • Either uniformly dark or vari-colored body with assorted spots or stripes.
  • Body bristles (hair) either thick or sparse on thorax.
  • Sponge-like mouthparts present. Some adult species have functionless (vestigial) mouthparts and live only long enough to mate.
  • Antennae are either pouch-like with a lateral bristle (aristate) or bead-like (moniliform).
  • Large compound eyes present.
  • Green to reddish-purple eye color.
  • Membranous pair of forewings either translucent or distinctly patterned with a marbled or spotted appearance.
  • Hindwings are modified to knob-like structures (halteres).
  • The 'feet' or tarsi are 5-segmented.
  • Several species have a long, tubular ovipositor sheath present.
  • Smallest size - 0.85 mm (0.33 in.).
  • Largest size - 4.9 mm (0.19 in.).
  • Elongate and oval or cylindrical.
  • Light yellow to dark reddish brown. Pupae darken prior to emergence.
  • Hard, all-encompassing protective cover (puparium) present.
  • Commonly found within soil.
  • Smallest size - 1.9 mm (0.071 in.).
  • Largest size - 13 mm (0.51 in.).
  • Typically 3 larval instars.
  • Several species are initially creamy-white, but assume the color of the food ingested. Some species appear transparent and turn light yellow-orange prior to pupation.
  • Most species are cylindrical and elongated. Some species have a narrowed, recurved anterior end.
  • Anterior mouth hooks present.
  • Lacking a well-developed head capsule.
  • Smallest size - 0.27 mm (0.011 in.).
  • Largest size - 1 mm (0.04 in.).
  • Smooth and white or translucent in color.
  • Eggs are hidden within the fruit peel, stamens, or style.
  • Egg shape ranges between cylindrical and tapered or elongate and elliptical.


Citrus hosts

Dipterans have several citrus species listed as ideal host plants which include grapefruit, mandarin, lemon, lime, and orange. See individual fact sheets for more detailed information.

Non-citrus hosts

Dipterans have a broad host plant range that include vegetables, field, and flower crops. See individual fact sheets for more detailed information.

Host damage


Larvae feed on the stems, buds, flower ovary, stamens, or petals which can lead to ovary destruction, premature flower drop, or necrotic patching.


Gravid females deposit eggs within the fruit epidermis. Emerging larvae create feeding tunnels within the pulp. Larvae also create holes when exiting the fruit to pupate. Damaged fruit appear water soaked or distorted and are susceptible to secondary infection.


Larvae infest and feed on young seedlings and tap roots.



Females lay several eggs at a time and deposit them on various host plant parts including the fruit skin, stamen, or style. Eggs hatch within two weeks in warm weather. Larvae can feed extensively within the flower or develop feeding tunnels within the pulp for more than a month. After three instars, larvae chew exit holes and drop to the ground to pupate. Adults emerge from the soil and can live for more than a year in ideal conditions. Some adult species only survive long enough to mate. Several generations can occur per year.



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Carroll, L.E., I.M. White, A. Freidberg, A.L. Norrbom, M.J. Dallwitz, and F.C. Thompson. 2010. Anastrepha ludens (Loew) In Pest fruit flies of the world. United States Department of Agriculture - Agricultural Research Service. (

Davies, F., and L. Jackson. 2009. Pest disease and weed management for the bearing grove, pp. 204-221. In Citrus growing in Florida. 5th ed. University of Florida Press. Gainesville, Florida.

Eaton, E. and K. Kaufman. 2007. True flies, pp. 272. In Field guide to insects of North America. Houghton Mifflin Company. New York, New York.

Steck, G.J. 1998. Mexican fruit fly, Anastrepha ludens (Loew) (Diptera: Tephritidae). Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services - Division of Plant Industry. Entomology Circular 391. (

Thomas, M.C., J.B. Heppner, R.E. Woodruff, H.V. Weems, and G.J. Steck. 2010. Featured Creatures: Mediterranean fruit fly, Ceratitis capitata (Wiedemann) (Insecta: Diptera: Tephritidae). University of Florida . Publication EENY-214. (

Triplehorn, C. and N. Johnson. 2004. Diptera. Pp. 672-680 In Borror and DeLong's Introduction to the study of insects. 7th ed. Brooks/Cole Cengage Learning. Belmonte, California.

Weems, H.V. 1962. Mediterranean fruit fly. Ceratitis capitata (Wiedemann). Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services - Division of Plant Industry. Entomology Circular 4. (

Weems, H.V. 1981. Mediterranean fruit fly, Ceratitis capitata (Wiedemann). Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services - Division of Plant Industry. Entomology Circular 230. (

Weems, H.V., J.B. Heppner, G.J. Steck, T.R. Fasulo, and J.L. Nation. 2004. Featured Creatures: Mexican fruit fly, Anastrepha ludens (Loew) (Insecta: Diptera: Tephritidae). University of Florida. Publication EENY-201. (

Weems, H.V., J.B. Heppner, T.R. Fasulo, and J.L. Nation. 2001. Featured Creatures: Caribbean fruit fly, Anastrepha suspensa (Loew) (Insecta: Diptera: Tephritidae). University of Florida - Department of Entomology and Nematology. Extension Publication EENY-196. (



Guerrero, S., J.A. Weeks, and A.C. Hodges


Citrus Pests
Content last updated June, 2012